Observations by NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft show a global view of Mars in high-energy, or fast, neutrons. These maps are based on data acquired by the high-energy neutron detector, one of the instruments in the gamma ray spectrometer suite. Fast neutrons, like epithermal neutrons, are sensitive to the presence of hydrogen. Unlike epithermal neutrons, however, they are not affected by the presence of carbon dioxide, which at the time of these observations covered the north polar area as "dry ice" frost. The low flux of fast neutrons (blue and purple colors) in the north polar region suggests an abundance of hydrogen in the soil comparable to that determined in the south from the flux of epithermal neutrons. These observations were acquired during the first two months of mapping operations. Contours of topography are superimposed on these maps for geographic reference.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in Tucson, and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the science instruments. The gamma-ray spectrometer was provided by the University of Arizona in collaboration with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, which provided the high-energy neutron detector, and the Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico, which provided the neutron spectrometer. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.